Tracking Coronavirus: How is COVID-19 Impacting Sports?

Author:
Updated:
Original:

As the coronavirus spreads globally, the sports world is continuing to notice and make major changes.

A number of events have been canceled or postponed, while several others have taken place in empty stadiums, to avoid the risk of the infection spreading among a large crowd. Teams, leagues and governing bodies are planning for the possibility that the virus will continue spreading in the coming months.

As of Wednesday evening, there are now more than 115,000 cases of the coronavirus worldwide, including more than 1,000 confirmed cases in the United States. The death toll stemming from the virus has surpassed 4,000.

The virus, also known as COVID-19, originated in Wuhan, China, late last year and quickly spread across the world. The illness affects the respiratory tract and can be transmitted through coughing, sneezing and contact with those infected. Symptoms include fever, coughing and difficulty breathing.

Here's a look at how some teams, leagues and governing bodies have responded so far to the public health crisis. 

Leagues or Events That Have Been Postponed or Cancelled:

  • In Baseball: Major League Baseball announced Thursday it will delay the start of the regular season at least two weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak. Opening Day was set for March 26.
  • Spring training games have been cancelled as of 4 p.m. ET on Thursday.
  • MLB originally considered the idea of playing games at alternative sites due to the coronavirus. The A's, Mariners, Dodgers, Angels and Giants were already slated to move their regular-season games in March and April after state orders barred gatherings of over 250 people.
  • Before the delayed start to the season, the Mariners reportedly re-scheduled their first two home series on the road—the first was set for March 26-29 and the second March 30-April 1.
  • The City of Oakland and Alameda County has prohibited gatherings of 1,000 or more people through the end of March. The Athletics announced Wednesday night they would be working with MLB to determine alternative plans for their scheduled home games in March. Their first six games of the season are scheduled to be played at the Oakland Coliseum, with five of them in March.
  • In College Basketball: The NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments were canceled on Thursday, as well as all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships.
  • The Big Ten, SEC, ACC, Big East, MEAC, MAC, WAC and AAC also canceled their conference tournaments on Thursday.
  • A referee who worked this week's Colonial Athletic Association men's basketball tournament has tested positive for coronavirus, the league announced Thursday. 
  • On Tuesday, the Ivy League decided to cancel the upcoming Ivy League Men’s and Women’s basketball tournaments. The Princeton women and Yale men will be the automatic qualifiers to the NCAA tournaments.
  • Ivy League presidents announced Wednesday that all spring sports practices and competitions would be canceled through the end of the academic year, a decision reached by unanimous vote.
  • Over the weekend, Chicago State and UMKC decided to cancel games against Seattle University, though Chicago State participated in the WAC Conference tournament this week in Las Vegas. 
  • All power conferences aside from the Big East cancelled their conference tournaments. The SEC and Pac-12 are suspending all sports through March. 
  • In Tennis: The ATP has shut down for six weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak. The Indian Wells Masters, Miami Open and several other minor tournaments have also been canceled as the virus continues to spread.
  • The women's Kunming Open in Anning, China, for April 27 to May 3 was canceled
  • In Hockey: The International Ice Hockey Federation canceled six world championship tournaments in March and April. The Ice Hockey Women's World Championships, which were set to be held from March 31 to April 10 in Halifax and Turo, Nova Scotia, were also canceled. A decision on May's men's world championship in Switzerland will be made soon.
  • In Running: The World Athletics Indoor Track and Field Championships were one of the first events postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak. The championships were initially scheduled for March 13–15 in Nanjing, China, but have now been pushed back to 2021.
  • World Athletics, track and field's global governing body, also announced that the World Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia, Poland, on March 29 have been postponed until Oct. 17 after discussions with organizers and health officials. The Tokyo Marathon canceled its mass-participation race for more than 30,000 runners but still held its elite race in front of few spectators along the course on March 1.
  • The Rome Marathons, originally scheduled for March 29, was canceled. The Paris Marathon was scheduled for April 5 and has now been postponed to Oct. 18.
  • Kenyan athletes have been banned from traveling to any international sporting events for the month by the country's sports ministry. Jamaica's health minister and the country's government has advised Jamaican schools not to compete at next month's edition of the Penn Relays.
  • In Golf: The LPGA canceled March series events in China, Thailand and Singapore. Meanwhile, the European Tour canceled the Kenya Open over fears about the virus.
  • The Hero Indian Open, The Magical Kenya Open, Maybank Championship (Malaysia) and and Volvo China Open have been postponed.  
  • In Motor Sports: No new date has been set for the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix since it was postponed. 
  • In Soccer: Italy has been one of the countries most impacted by the disease, with more than 3,800 cases and 100 deaths. The Italian government announced that sporting events will be held without spectators until at least April 3.
  • Among the games affected are Juventus's Champions League game against Lyon on March 17 in Turin. 
  • Manchester-Arsenal set for Wednesday has been postponed and will be rescheduled.
  • The Asian Champions League matches have been postponed until April.
  • Danish soccer player Thomas Kahlenberg was diagnosed with coronavirus after a recent trip to Denmark. He was in attendance at Brondby's game against Lyngby, and as a result, Brondby has quarantined more than 13 people, including players and coaches.

  • Ajax assistant coach Christian Poulsen and two other members of the Dutch club's staff were asked to remain at home after they attended a birthday party with Kahlenberg.

  • Serie A club Juventus announced Wednesday that Italian defender Daniele Rugani has tested positive for coronavirus. In a statement, the team said Rugani is "currently asymptomatic."

  • The Premier League banned pregame handshakes between players to potentially stop spreading the virus

  • In the MLS, the Seattle Sounders FC has postponed its March 21 home match against FC Dallas at CenturyLink Field. This comes after Washington Gov. Jay Inslee issued a ban on gatherings of 250 or more people throughout the Seattle metro area. 

Leagues or Events That Will Be Played Without Spectators:

  • In Professional Basketball: The Basketball Africa League, a new league formed in partnership with FIBA and the NBA, is postponing the start of its inaugural season. The first game was scheduled for Friday, March 13, at the Dakar Arena in Dakar, Senegal.
  • In Football: The XFL Seattle Dragons' home game against the Los Angeles Wildcats on Sunday, March 15, will take place as scheduled, but no fans will be in attendance, the team announced Wednesday. No upcoming XFL games have been canceled, but a concessions vendor, who worked the Seattle Dragons' Feb. 22 game at CenturyLink Field, has tested positive for coronavirus.
  • In Hockey: On Wednesday, the San Jose Sharks officially announced that their games at SAP Center this month will be played in an empty arena, and that "credits and refunds" will be given to fans. That update came one day after the NHL and San Jose team announced that they will adhere to a ban on mass gatherings enacted by Santa Clara County in California through the end of March in response to the spread of the coronavirus.
  • In WWE: Friday Night SmackDown will occur in Orlando with no audience. The event was originally supposed to be held in Detroit.

Leagues or Events That Have Yet to Undergo Changes:

  • In Running: Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said earlier this week that city is monitoring the spread of the disease but as of right now, the Boston Marathon will proceed as scheduled on April 20.
  • In Tennis: French Open organizers previously told the Agence France-Presse they are not considering postponement or cancellation of the tournament from May 24 to June 7.
  • In Golf: The Masters is expected to proceed as scheduled from April 9 to 12, Augusta National Golf Club announced. The PGA Tour announced Tuesday that no current events have been canceled, but that all upcoming events, including this week’s THE PLAYERS Championship, are implementing recommended protocols to promote the health and safety of all attendees.
  • The Olympics: More than 10,000 athletes and thousands more fans and media members from around the globe are expected to descend upon Tokyo for the Summer Games in July. International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach continues to say that the Olympics will go on as planned, and that there have not been talks about a cancelation. Japan's Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto floated the idea that under the IOC contract, Tokyo could host the Olympics any time in 2020 if a postponement until later in the year is necessary.
  • International Olympic Committee spokesperson Mark Adams attempted to quell fears of cancellation during a press conference.
  • "We made a decision and the decision is the Games go ahead," Adams said.

  • Yoshiro Mori, the president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee, also shot down a rumor from an executive board member who said the 2020 Games should be delayed a year to two because of the coronavirus.

  • The Olympic torch-lighting relay will begin March 12 in Greece.

  • In MMA: Both UFC and Bellator are "moving ahead with planned events for now," according to ESPN's Marc Raimondi
  • The UFC has an event in Brazil on Saturday, followed by trips to London, Portland and Brooklyn before the end of April. 
  • In Soccer: EUFA officials are still monitoring the virus before making any decision on the Euro 2020 tournament set for June.

This story will be updated